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Archive: February, 2013

POSTED: Tuesday, February 26, 2013, 1:04 PM

 Sometimes you sense the 99-percent sympathizers in Hollywood have more in common with the 1 percent than they’d care to admit.
Witness the Ben Affleck acceptance speech as he hoisted the best picture Oscar, teary-eyed, giving a hey-I’ve-been-there pep talk.
“It doesn’t matter that you get knocked down or not. What matters is you get back up.”
At that moment, he was not just best picture winner, but the beloved star of the Ben Affleck Redemption Story.
He’d been knocked down, but he got back up.
Which got me wondering: What horrid exile had Affleck withstood since he last held an Oscar, for “Good Will Hunting” in 1997? What were his unendurable interim living conditions?
 First let’s try to date his fall from grace. Five years after “GWH,” he was starring in “Armageddon” and taking the lead in the Jack Ryan franchise, so that wasn’t it.
Maybe it was 2003, when he starred in the unloved “Daredevil” and Gigli,” leading to a string of movies that included “Paycheck,” “Jersey Girl,” “Surviving Christmas,” “Clerks II” and, in 2006, “Hollywoodland,” although he was pretty good in the latter as George Reeves. 
At any rate, by 2007, he was directing “Gone Baby Gone,” discovering a new career as a sought-after director.
So that leaves us with, what, four years? During which he was gainfully employed, dating Jennifer Lopez, marrying Jennifer Garner.
 Oh, the humanity. 
 

POSTED: Monday, February 25, 2013, 1:02 PM

Looking at my Oscar predictions ballot today, I see total carnage. My worst outing in several years.
 I got the obvious ones, but missed the more contentious categories, like Best Supporting Actor. I sensed that “Lincoln” was weak (Ang Lee should have been an obvious pick over Spielberg for director) and Tommy Lee Jones was vulnerable, but figured voters would choose veteran Robert De Niro, or Philip Seymour Hoffman, who was fantastic in “The Master.” Instead the award went to Christoph Waltz. His second in four years.
I like Waltz, the amusing Austrian ham/hobbit with the impish smile, who harmonizes so nicely with Tarantino’s musical dialgogue. But voters see a stature to his Tarantino collaborations and cartoon mash-ups that I don’t see, and have elevated him to a level that feels inflated to me.
Waltz now has as many Oscars (albeit supporting) as Brando, Nicholson, De Niro, more than Al Pacino.
If I’m going to give a guy two Oscars, I’m picking Philip Seymour Hoffman, so he could have as many as Dustin Hoffman. Still, I didn’t object to Waltz’ Oscar the way this critic objects to Best Picure winner “Argo,” or this critic ripped Seth McFarlane’s un-gallant job as Oscar host.
I think the latter lady has a point. Hollywood seems not to have noticed that the teen boys are off playing “Warcraft,” that women are its primary audience. Look at the way Melissa McCarthy is pimp-slapping Bruce Willis, Stallone, Schwarzenegger at the box office, the way women drive some of the big tentpole franchises, “Twilight,” or “Hunger Games.” Look at how well “Silver Linings Playbook” is doing next to any rapidly deflating action title. Look at any weekly top-ten box office ranking for the past year or so, you’re going to see a list weighted toward movies that appeal to women.
 We saw your boobs? Yes. On stage. With microphones.

POSTED: Saturday, February 23, 2013, 10:07 PM

"Silver Linings Playbook" won best picture at the Independent Spirit Awards today. David Russell won Best Director and Best Screenplay, Jennifer Lawrence won Best Actress. 

Bradley Cooper lost Best Actor to John Hawkes of "The Sessions." That's too bad for Abington, but Hawkes was great in "Sessions," and given that he didn't even get a nomination from the Academy, it's really kind of nice to see him win this award. His co-star Helen Hunt won best supporting actress. Matthew McConaughey won best supporting actor for "Magic Mike." Robert De Niro of "SLP" was not nominated. 

SLP's producer joked that he didn't expect to win today, and doesn't expect to win tomorrow.

POSTED: Tuesday, February 19, 2013, 1:29 PM

Oscar voting closes today -- in the days leading to the deadline, The Weinstein Company ran ads in the Los Angeles papers featuring a quote from Roger Ebert, who now thinks "Silver Linings" may upset "Argo." He senses a "groundsell."

The Wrap identifies the Ebert ad as part of TWCs Oscar campaign for SLP, characterized by writer Steve Pond as "we're serious, too." The campaign focuses on the fact that the movie's main character, played by Bradley Cooper, is bipolar.

The Weinstein Oscar push included a trip by writer-directgor David O. Russell to Washington D.C., where he's reportedly met with VP Joe Biden and senators proposing a new mental health bill.

POSTED: Monday, February 18, 2013, 11:39 AM

The Hollywood Reporter has a piece about "Silver Linings" crossing the $100 million mark in North America, after having another stellar weekend at the box office. 

The movie finished 8th, but made another $6 million and posted another incredible audience hold, dropping only 7 percent despite losing more than 600 theaters to other Valentine's Day competition.

Meanwhile, the Weinstein Co. appears to be working its Oscar campaign magic, positioning the Bradley Cooper/Jennifer Lawrence crowd pleaser as a serious-minded (in its own way) movie about mental illness. In recent days, we've seen an essay by Patrick Kennedy and another by the head of the American Psychiatric Association touting the movie's bona fides as a movie that humanizes the subject. 

POSTED: Thursday, February 14, 2013, 11:15 AM

The Oscar pickers at Goldderby.com report that "Amour" star Emmanuelle Riva (she just won at the BAFTA awards) now has a strong chance to edge "Silver Linings Star" Jennifer Lawrence for Best Actress.

The same experts, however, say SLP's Robert De Niro is gaining ground on Tommy Lee Jones ("Lincoln") for best supporting actor.   

POSTED: Monday, February 11, 2013, 11:48 AM

The made-in-Philly “Silver Linings Playbook” is finally shaping up to be the box office hit it deserves to be.
The numbers indicate “SLP” is riding on a wave of phenomenal word of mouth -- it made another $7 million over the weekend, holding an incredible 90 percent of its audience. The movie’s at $90 million an counting, and is very well positioned to earn a pile this holiday weekend, following Valentine’s Day.
It’s surely the best date-movie out there, and may be the best movie out there, period (although audiences are nearly as enthusiastic about “Zero Dark Thirty,” also holding on to its audience and approaching $100 million.)
Could any of this translate into Oscar night success?  “Argo” has turned into an awards-season beast -- it did well at the British “Oscars” over the weekend and has dominated the craft guild awards.
But I don’t know anyone who’s passionate about “Argo,” certainly not the way they are about “SLP.”
And “SLP,” by the way, is closely tracking the release pattern and box office trajectory of another Weinstein Co. picture that did well during awards season -- “The King’s Speech,” which made well over $100 million and won the Oscar for Best Picture two years ago.

About this blog
Gary Thompson is the Daily News film critic. Reach Gary at thompsg@phillynews.com.

Gary Thompson Daily News Film Critic
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